Hospital Bills from Auto Accidents
The perennial question in this business is “What should I do with my hospital bills after an accident?”
There is A LOT of confusion over this topic, and while I’d like to think that my little blog post will set it straight, I know it won’t. Still, I shall try.
When you go to the hospital after an auto accident the hospital billing folks can put you in a mess of a situation. If you have health insurance, what they should do is document that your health insurance is the primary payer and bill them accordingly. What they should not do is take down the at-fault party’s auto insurance info and pretend like they can bill them. They can’t!
“What’s this?” you ask. “I thought that the at-fault party should pay for all of my bills!”
Well, yeah, in theory, they should. But we aren’t there yet. IF that’s coming, it’s coming later in the process, but not now.
In the meantime, the NUMBER ONE THING YOU CAN DO TO SAVE YOU FUTURE GRIEF AFTER AN ACCIDENT IS MAKE SURE ALL OF YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS ARE BILLING YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE.
“But why?” you ask. The main reason is that we are NOT what’s called a PIP state. PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection. In states that have those sort of policies, YOUR auto policy is the primary payer for any auto-accident-related medical expenses. Even if you have health insurance, they jump in front of that insurance under these circumstances.
North Carolina is a liability state. We all (are supposed to have) liability insurance. That sort of policy covers you for what you might have to pay victims of your negligence. That is NOT a primary payer; it is a potential reimbursement mechanism.
The best way to look at it is this way: In NC YOU own your medical expenses until you MAKE someone else buy them from you. So, since you own them, you should use your health insurance to make them lower (remember, your health insurance will have the right to contractual adjustments that will lower the overall costs. In the end, that helps to make sure that a) your expenses are less than they could be, and b) it might also increase your take-home amount when/if you get an award from the liability carrier.
I know. It’s all needlessly complicated, but that’s what we have. As always, call me when this stuff comes up. 919-929-2992.
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